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VIDEO: This Week in Penn State Wrestling - Jan. 27

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - catches up with senior Matt Brown (174 pounds) leading up to Penn State's weekend matches at Michigan and Michigan State.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

McIntosh Beats Top-Ranked Schiller in Matchup Against Gophers

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10722754.jpegBy Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was an opportunity that Morgan McIntosh had been waiting for all week.

The Penn State 197-pounder entered Sunday's dual against No. 2 Minnesota facing one of the biggest challenges of his career, a matchup with the top-ranked wrestler at his weight, Scott Schiller.

He may not have been favored to win, but none of that mattered once the bout began.

In a bout featuring two All-Americans, McIntosh produced perhaps his biggest win yet, taking Schiller down three times in a 7-4 victory that improved the sixth-ranked wrestler to 9-1 in dual meets and highlighted the Nittany Lions close 17-16 loss.

"I think getting my shots, I was in on a lot of shots, and I just need to keep figuring out a way to finish those," McIntosh said. "Schiller's a big, strong guy, he's got strong hips but there's things I could have done a lot differently to finish those shots."

McIntosh wasted little time establishing the tempo of the match, aggressively shooting at Schiller throughout the first period to jump out to a 4-2 lead before adding another takedown in the third to secure the victory. Still, his attitude after the match said a lot about the junior's character.

Although he had just achieved a signature win, one that every other wrestler in his weight class would have been proud of, McIntosh instead chose to focus on the aspects he stills wants to improve as well as his team.

"If I could have [finished more takedowns], maybe I could have scored more points and gotten the bonus points for the team," McIntosh said. "Just got to learn from it and do things differently next time."

That team-first mindset is one of the reasons that McIntosh is one of the team's two captains despite being a junior. Regardless of the outcome of the team match, it was a terrific moment for the Santa Ana, California, native, seeing as Schiller finished third at the NCAA Tournament last season and had yet to lose a dual meet all season.

While McIntosh didn't gloat about his victory, his fellow captain senior Matt Brown heaped plenty of praise on him.

"I thought it was pretty impressive how many times he was able to get in on a leg," Brown said. "He's going to finish more of those in the future but he controlled the whole match, I was very impressed. I looked and saw the kid he was wrestling was ranked [No. 1] I thought, 'well maybe Morgan should be first, look how good he's wrestling.'

"I think it just proves to him he is the best in the country. I mean, I wrestle with him and I can't stop what he does. So I'm like, 'what the heck, how is anyone else going to beat him.'"

Two matches earlier, Brown has an impressive win himself in another highly anticipated bout at the 174-pound weight, beating third ranked Logan Storley 4-1.

In the eighth career meeting between the two multi-time All-Americans, both grapplers were active from the start. However, it was Brown who broke the 0-0 tie in the second period with a quick escape and takedown that proved to be the difference.

The win gives Brown, who dropped a 3-1 overtime decision to Storley in last year's NCAA Tournament, further confidence that he can beat the Gopher again if they meat in March. He is now 5-3 all-time against the Minnesota 174-pounder.

"You want like a grade, like probably a B maybe," Brown said. "Some positive things, I was able to scramble, I've been working with coach [Casey] Cunningham on that. Didn't have a productive third period so that's something I can work on and score more points."

In the final bout of the day, Penn State 125-pounder Jordan Conaway needed to pin Ethan Lizak to give the Lions a victory and just missed out on the fall, settling instead for a 13-3 major that left the Lions one point away from a tie.

While it was a tough way to lose, it proved Penn State is only a move or two away from being able to beat the second-ranked team in the country in a dual setting.

Minnesota entered the afternoon with eight ranked wrestlers, including five ranked in the top five and three at No. 1, yet Penn State won five of the match's 10 bouts and four of the five after halftime. Though disappointed, the Blue and White remain confident they can compete with anyone when the postseason comes around.

"Again, it's just those close matches, we've got to win those," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "We had a chance to win a couple of those obviously and we gave up two majors, which ended up being the difference. They've got some pretty good guys too."

VIDEO: Wrestling Post-Match vs. Minnesota

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 10th-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) won five matches in a tightly-contested dual match against No. 2 Minnesota (10-0, 6-0) inside a packed Rec Hall on Sunday afternoon. But a pair of bonus points for the Gophers proved to be the difference in a 17-16 decision.

After junior Morgan McIntosh knocked off No. 1 Scott Schiller, heavyweight Jimmy Lawson notched a victory to set the score at 17-12 heading into the final bout of the afternoon. Jordan Conaway scored a 13-3 major decision and nearly pinned Minnesota's Ethan Lizak in the final match, but the Lions fell just shy on the final scoreboard. See some highlights and hear from Matt Brown, McIntosh and head coach Cael Sanderson following the match.

Hammond Adjusting Well to Pressure of Being a Starter

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10708514.jpegBy Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At the beginning of the 2014-'15 season, Penn State wrestler Garett Hammond had quite the task on his hands.

As if stepping into a starting role for the four-time defending national champion Nittany Lions wasn't difficult enough, the redshirt freshman was also replacing four-time All-American and two-time individual national champion David Taylor in the lineup.

Now just past the halfway point in his first year as a starter, Hammond has responded to the challenge well. Though he is not undefeated as Taylor was during his first regular season, the 165-pounder is second on the team with 18 wins and is 6-3 in duals after winning twice this past weekend.

"I've had some great experiences so far," Hammond said. "I think I'm doing a lot better than I was at the beginning of the season. I can tell a big difference, I'm getting more comfortable out there and a lot of it is my mentality and my confidence in myself. Working with the coaches and working with other teammates to get better."

Hammond knows the comparisons to his predecessor are inevitable, but it's not something he's really focused on. After all, he was well aware of the situation he was entering when he enrolled at Penn State prior to last season.

Like every wrestler who joins head coach Cael Sanderson's program, Hammond was excited about the chance to compete at a school with sky-high expectations every year. With his weight having been in the 150s in high school, the former Chambersburg High star knew there was a strong possibility he would be the next 165-pound starter once Taylor graduated.

"With a team like this, you're going to have good guys at every single weight," Hammond said. "[Three-time national champion] Ed Ruth graduated last year, he's also very good. We won four national titles the past four seasons so there's obviously going to be a lot of good guys coming through the program."

Like most first-year starters, Hammond has had his fair share of learning to do now that he's facing Big Ten competition for the first time.

Although he dropped his first two duals in January against Indiana and Ohio State, he battled back with an impressive showing last weekend, majoring Nick Visicaro of Rutgers 13-4 and beating Pat Robinson of Purdue 16-11 in a match that turned the momentum for the Nittany Lions in a 26-9 win.

For Hammond, improving his confidence has been just as key as strengthening his technique. While he went 29-7 in open tournaments last year as a redshirt, he still had to adjust to being someone the team relied on in key situations.

"Last year, I just made a decision where I could make a slow adjustment," Hammond said. "I had a whole year to focus on wrestling open tournaments, I didn't have as much pressure on myself. Time is limited now, I don't give myself a year to get better, I focus on the next week and making sure I make the big improvements."

Luckily, the new starter has had plenty of experienced sparring partners to help him with his development. Among that group is Taylor, who still frequently trains in Rec Hall as a member of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, and Matt Brown, the team's senior captain and two-time All-American at the 174-pound weight.

"Yeah, it's a complete turnaround from last year," Brown said of Hammond. "He's was fresh, new coming out of high school. Now he's a competitive partner. We go probably once a week and I can see that growth in him."

Growing up just two hours away from State College, the Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, native competed in tournaments at Penn State as a kid and always wanted to be a part of the school's wrestling tradition.

He knows that expectations of him will only grow from here, and he's perfectly fine with that. Although his career is just beginning, Hammond hopes to leave a legacy that the next Penn State 165-pounder will want to live up to.

"You just kind of realize, they're (Taylor and Ruth) just people too, just like everyone on the team," Hammond said. "I mean, you work hard and make that decision to win, and big part of it is mentality and confidence in yourself and it's starting to rub off a little bit."

Nittany Lions Gearing Up For Match Against Gophers
Since Cael Sanderson took over as head coach in 2009, the Nittany Lions have had their share of challenging matches on their way to four straight national titles.

This Sunday, they'll have perhaps their toughest test of the season, when No. 2 Minnesota comes to Rec Hall.

The Gophers, who are led by three-time national championship coach J Robinson, boast a lineup that features eight ranked wrestlers, not to mention three (133-pounder Chris Dardanes, 157-pounder Dylan Ness and 197-Pounder Scott Schiller) ranked first at their weight.

While the Nittany Lions haven't beaten the Gophers in a dual meet during Sanderson's tenure (going 0-3-1), they have gotten the best of them at both the conference and national tournaments the past four years. Still, Sanderson remains focused on the present task at hand.

"They've just been real strong," Sanderson said. "They're a good dual meet team, a lot of depth, solid, a tough group of kids, a tough staff, just tough people. We like our chances with any team, but again it comes down to, you've gotta choose to be tough, choose to score those points and keep wrestling and do all those things that bring success."

One match that will be especially intriguing is the 174-pound contest, where Penn State's Matt Brown (No. 4, two-time All-American) will take on Minnesota's Logan Storley (No.3, three-time All-American) for the eighth time in their respective careers.

The two faced off four times last season, with Brown winning at the Southern Scuffle and the Big Ten Championships and Storley taking the bouts at the dual meet and the NCAA Tournament. Overall, Brown is 4-3 against the Gopher grappler.

"Has it really been that many times?" Brown said with a smile. "I think we're pretty familiar with each other, but every time the whistle blows it's a new match. I'm gonna try to wrestle my match regardless of what he's trying to do." 

VIDEO: This Week in Penn State Wrestling - Jan. 20

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - catches up with junior Morgan McIntosh (197 pounds) leading up to Penn State's match against Minnesota (Sunday at 2 p.m. in Rec Hall).

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Hammond and Brown Kick Start Second Half Shutout of Purdue

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10702047.jpegBy Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The past four seasons, the back half of the Penn State wrestling team's lineup has always been considered a murderer's row of talent.

While there are some new faces in those spots this year, the production level hasn't dropped off much. Against Purdue on Sunday, that became apparent quickly.

Going into halftime down 9-6 to the Boilermakers, the Nittany Lions got a huge boost their upper weight wrestlers, who won five-straight matches to clinch a 26-9 victory.

Sparking the comeback were two wrestlers with very different experience levels, freshman Garett Hammond and senior and two-time All-American Matt Brown.

"Obviously, we needed a little more fire," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "So these guys [Brown and Hammond] came out and got things turned around a little bit for us. Again, Purdue wrestled hard."

After no wrestler managed to score 10 or more points in the first five bouts of the afternoon, Hammond changed the tempo with a high-scoring 16-11 win over Pat Robinson and Brown followed it up with a pin over Chad Welch, which turned the three-point deficit into a 15-9 lead.

In the 165-pound match, Hammond held off Robinson in an exciting bout that featured a combined six takedowns, three reversals and a near fall.

Despite falling behind 2-0 in the opening minute of the first period, the freshman battled back with a quick escape and takedown, then added a reversal and near fall for an 8-4 lead at the end of one. He would later score another takedown and reversal in what was the highest scoring bout of the afternoon.

The win capped an impressive weekend for the Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, native, who earned a 13-4 major decision on Friday against Nick Visicaro of Rutgers.

"I wanted to wrestle well, and there's 10 guys so just trying to do my part and wrestle hard," Hammond said. "We wrestled a lot, we had two matches last weekend and two matches this weekend so I was a little sore and a little tired but there's a lot of guys and lot of fans that support you so you just want to go out there and I just wanted to wrestle hard and score as many times as I could."

Now 18-7 on the year and 4-4 in dual meets, Hammond has made steady improvements during his first year in the starting lineup.

Still, Hammond knows there is plenty of work for him to do. While his shot taking and offensive moves were on point Sunday, he is determined to improve his defense so he can limit the number of takedowns against him.

"There was a lot of points scored [today] and I wanted to keep wrestling, but there's a lot of things I need to work on, Hammond said. "I feel like effort-wise I was doing okay, but just cleaning up and making a little more focus on top. It's good when I'm getting reversals, but when I'm getting reversed it's not good."

Brown on the other hand, wasted little time securing his victory. The Penn State captain brought Welch to the mat for a quick 2-0 lead and immediately went to work securing the fall, which he completed just 1:21 into the first period.

It was the seventh pin of the season for Brown, who has now scored 40 dual points for the Nittany Lions this season while giving up just three.

Brown, who will be looking to secure his third All-American honor and first individual national title in March, knows his responsibility as the team's most seasoned veteran. With the score tied 9-9 when he took the mat, the 174-pounder gave his team the boost of energy it needed.

"Yeah I definitely would say there is a little bit of urgency," Brown said. "Not pressure, but urgency. I was trying to ride hard on top, trying to score near fall, and then [the pin] kind of fell into my lap. I was riding him tough and I was able to see that."

From that point, Matt McCutcheon, Morgan McIntosh and Jimmy Lawson took care of their matches at 184, 197 and 285, respectively. In a match that was tightly contested through five bouts, it was a much-welcomed finish.

"I thought [Brown's win] was big, you heard the crowd, it was huge," Sanderson said. "You gotta love Rec Hall, it's an amazing place to compete and you don't have to do much to get people fired up. You know, you really just have to score some points, go get a pin. Really, it's a competitor's dream, it doesn't get any better than that and Matt took advantage of that." 

VIDEO: Wrestling Post-Match vs. Purdue

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion wrestling team (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten) won all five matches following intermission to pull away from Purdue for a 26-9 victory over Purdue in Rec Hall on Sunday.

Matt Brown's pin at 174 pounds and Morgan McIntosh's technical fall victory headlined Penn State's surge after halftime. Check out some highlights from Sunday's match and hear from head coach Cael Sanderson, Brown and Garett Hammond after the match.

Gingrich Caps Win at Rutgers With Overtime Triumph

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WR_RU_Blog.jpgVIDEO: Post-Match Interviews and Highlights

By Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - After three periods of wrestling, Penn State senior heavyweight Jon Gingrich had no intention of having the outcome of his match delayed any longer.

Taking on Billy Smith of Rutgers, the No. 13 ranked heavyweight in the country, Gingrich briefly led 3-1 in the third before a Smith escape and a penalty for locked hands tied the match and sent it to overtime. Although frustrated, the fifth-year wrestler stayed focused.

"I was kind of surprised by just can't let that mess with your mind," Gingrich said. "If I hadn't gotten that called against me, either way, I couldn't give up another takedown so it just happened that he got it and I had to get the takedown in overtime."

In overtime, it would take just eight seconds for Gingrich to polish off the win, as he quickly grabbed the Scarlet Knight's ankles and yanked him to the mat for a 5-3 win that capped off the Nittany Lions' 28-6 road victory.

After wrestling defensively for most of the first two periods before starting to unleash his offense in the third, Gingrich said he saw no reason to act cautiously in the sudden victory period. By that point, he could tell his opponent was starting to wear down.

"Well, towards the end of the second, as I was tying up with him, I had the tie-ups that I like," Gingrich said. "In the first and halfway through the second he was really fighting hard. In the third I knew he was getting tired and I knew my shots were going to be there, so slowly feeling him break and wanting to give me a takedown.

"[In overtime], I didn't feel like going down to ride out or letting him get close so I really wanted to make sure I got [the takedown]."

The win was in some ways redemption for Gingrich, who lost to Smith 2-1 last season in a tournament on Nov. 10. More importantly though, it improved the Penn State heavyweight to 5-0 on the season in dual meets and gave him a victory over a ranked opponent.

At this point in the season, the Wingate, Pennsylvania, native is well aware of the situation he is in. While he has performed strongly every time he has been called on, he is still in the thick of a competition for the starting spot with fellow redshirt senior Jimmy Lawson.

The battle between Gingrich and Lawson is common knowledge to Nittany Lions fans by now. Both have wrestled at the NCAA Tournament, and both have the confidence of head coach Cael Sanderson.

"That's a tough opponent, he lost to that kid last year," Sanderson said. "Jon did some nice things, and you saw that he can go score some points. In overtime, he timed it and got a nice shot, a quick finish. A shot like that is really tough to stop, so he has that in him."

With Lawson having a pair of impressive wins over ranked opponents this year under his belt, the competition isn't over. For Gingrich though, it's a situation that he has become accustomed to.

"It's definitely a struggle," Gingrich said. "It's always looking over the back of your shoulder, see each other in practice and you want to go harder. Just trying to gain those little bits you know. It's definitely not easy but it definitely can motivate you."

Conaway Gets Back on Track With Major Decision
When Jordan Conaway opened up the match at the 125-pound weight, he was looking to do more than get Penn State off to a good start.

After falling to Ohio State's Nathan Tomasello 11-2 last Sunday, the junior was in need of a bounce back performance.

Despite giving up an early takedown to Rutgers' Sean McCabe, Conaway responded with two takedowns and three back points that led to a 10-2 major decision victory and a 4-0 lead for the Nittany Lions.

"I thought he hit a nice shot there, and sometimes that happens, a guy came up on top, did a nice job but he kept plugging away," Sanderson said. "He gave up the first takedown and came back to get a major, I'm happy with that kid's performance."

With 30 seconds remaining in the first, the 125-pounder took McCabe down in the center of the mat before turning him to his back for the three addition points. After a scoreless second period, he added two escapes and a takedown in the third for the major.

Now 14-3 on the season and 6-1 in duals, Conaway looks strong as he continues to work towards his first All-American title. According to Sanderson, the wrestler's loss the previous week never shook the coaching staff's confidence in him.

"You've got to let stuff go quickly and you've got to move on," Sanderson said. "Conaway is very consistent. He obviously didn't have his best performance last week, but you've got to give credit to his competition too. But we're moving forward."

VIDEO: Wrestling Post-Match at Rutgers

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The Nittany Lion wrestling team (7-1, 3-1 Big Ten) won eight matches en route to a dominating 28-6 victory at Rutgers on Friday.

Jordan Conaway and Jimmy Gulibon kick-started the match with major decision victories before Jon Gingrich capped off the evening with a win in sudden victory in the final match of the night. Penn State returns home on Sunday to face Purdue at 1 p.m.

Check out some post-match reaction from head coach Cael Sanderson and Gingrich, along with some highlights from the RAC.

Newfound Confidence Helping Gulibon Reach Potential

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10690419.jpegBy Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On the surface, Penn State wrestler Jimmy Gulibon doesn't look much different than he did a year ago.

Not only are his wiry 133-pound frame and floppy brown hair still the same, he also hasn't changed his shy, quiet demeanor.

At the same time, it's been hard not to notice the redshirt sophomore's transformation on the mat. A year after he struggled to find consistency during his first season as a starter, Gulibon has been a force for the Nittany Lions throughout the 2014-'15 campaign.

So far, the Latrobe, Pennsylvania, native has gone 14-2 with a 7-0 mark in dual meets, huge improvements from his 18-15 season last year when he went just 5-8 in duals.

"I mean, it feels good but it's a long season," Gulibon said. "There's still a lot more wrestling to do so I'm trying to take it one match at a time."

His low-key personality aside, Gulibon has been attacking opponents with a tenacity that, while shown in glimpses last season, has been steady this year. With eight dual meets remaining, the 133-pounder already has four dual wins over ranked opponents to go with three major decisions and one pin on the year.  

What's been the difference for the sophomore? For starters, it's been learning to accept and enjoy the pressure that comes with competing at a wrestling-crazed school like Penn State.

A four-time PIAA at Derry Area High School, Gulibon came to University Park with extremely high expectations. For someone who's never been about the spotlight, it wasn't an easy adjustment.

"Going out there the first few times in [Rec Hall], it was pretty nerve racking," Gulibon said. "It's pretty scary and pretty hard to get used. But once you get used to it it's pretty fun."

Gulibon certainly looks like a guy who's having a lot more fun these days. Before he could start enjoying himself on the mat however, he had to work on a few things that had held him back.

Last season, Gulibon had trouble early in the schedule with getting escapes when wrestling in the bottom position. Soon, the new starter found himself hesitant to take shots, afraid of the possibility of giving up a takedown and having to fight his way out of it.

After dropping his first four duals, Gulibon improved enough to qualify for the NCAA Tournament in March, where he finished with a 1-2 mark. Knowing he had a lot more in him, he went into the offseason with a new sense of determination.

"I worked really hard this summer," Gulibon said. "You kind of have to have a little confidence in yourself. I mean this whole summer I trained, did extra work outs. Just a lot of that really helped out with my confidence. Working on all different positions, top, bottom and neutral I guess led to a bit of a confidence boost.

"Basically, I was afraid to get on bottom. I was having trouble getting out all the time and I think that led to me not opening up on my feet because there's a chance I make a mistake and get taken down and then I'm on bottom."

With Penn State entering the current campaign without the services of five of last season's All-Americans due to graduation (James English, Ed Ruth, and David Taylor) and redshirts (Nico Megaludis, Zain Retherford), the need for Gulibon to step up was very high. When the Lions dual slate began in November, it didn't take long for the second-year wrestler to answer the bell.

In the team's opening match against Lehigh, Gulibon faced off against the same opponent that handed him a 7-6 loss in his first ever college dual, second ranked Mason Beckman.

Not wanting a repeat performance, Gulibon scored two takedowns and added a pair of back points to overcome an early 2-1 deficit on his way to an 8-3 win. Since then, he hasn't looked back, going undefeated in duals and establishing himself as the lynchpin the Lions need in the top half of their lineup.

"With him, I think it's a maturity and understanding thing," associate head coach Cody Sanderson said. "He went right back to work after [last year's] national tournament because he wants to win. He's not okay with getting beat or having close matches, he wants to win. I think last year forced him to really figure some things out about himself and how he's approaching the sport and I think that's what we're starting to see in his results."

This past Sunday, the sophomore had another banner performance on the road at Ohio State. Taking on fourth-ranked Johnni DiJulius, who beat him 3-2 last year, Gulibon used a third period takedown to register an impressive 5-4 win.

Though the victories against ranked opponents keep piling up, Gulibon continues to look ahead. He knows that dwelling on the past won't do him any good, and there's still plenty left for him to accomplish.

"No...I try to leave [the previous matches] behind me," Gulibon said. "Last year I kind of dwelled on them a lot but this year I'm trying to forget about it and move forward."